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Lourmarin, Cucuron and Ansouis in one day

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


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Crossing the Durance River

Crossing the Durance River

Slept ‘til 7:30 on a very foggy morning. We iced my ankle, ate breakfast and set off for Lourmarin via the D7n crossing the Durance River at Mallemort to avoid the Cavaillon traffic disaster. It worked beautifully and was a nice drive. We found parking and set off on foot . . . slowly. In due time we wandered up to the Château and André Martin was having an exhibit of his oils, acrylics and watercolors that we thoroughly enjoyed. I bought photos of several and Ed got his business card.

Château de Lourmarin

Château de Lourmarin

We walked back into and through the town seeing more of it than we had on two previous visits. They’ve put up signs pointing to attractions which helps. Carol Lynn had suggested Nonni’s for lunch and we found it but they only serve dinner so we continued our search. We chose another restaurant and were seated but quickly discovered they only took Visa and Ed didn’t have his so we apologized and left. Finally settled on L’Insolite, a glacier, pizzeria, restaurant. Good choice. We sat in the back on the terrace leaving most of the other tourists out on the main street . . . and in the sun. The terrace was not only shady; it had two cute cats to entertain us. One of them kept climbing the vines growing along the roof and sides and playing with the strings of light bulbs. She was so funny even serious businessmen were getting up and taking pictures with their cell phones. We were all laughing at her. Fortunately the food was good too. We both got the magret de canard cooked to perfection with one hot and one cold vegetable, both excellent. It was a glacier so we got ice cream for dessert and loved it. Great fun, excellent food and service . . . and they take MasterCard. [L’Insolite, Place de la Fontaine, 84160 Lourmarin; tel: +33 (0)4 9068-0203]
Lourmarin street scene

Lourmarin street scene

Blue Door on rue de Temple, Lourmarin

Blue Door on rue de Temple, Lourmarin


Pretty shop in Lourmarin

Pretty shop in Lourmarin

Cat playing with light bulbs at L’Insolite Restaurant

Cat playing with light bulbs at L’Insolite Restaurant

Place de l'Étang, the very large fountain in Cucuron

Place de l'Étang, the very large fountain in Cucuron

Retrieved the car and found our way through lovely countryside to Cucuron where we drove right to free parking. We walked up to “the lake,” a huge fountain with tables and chairs around it and surrounded by ancient plane trees. Perfect! Walked through a gate into the old town and wandered from one end to the next stopping in the church and taking lots of pictures. Visited the lovely Eglise de Notre Dame de Beaulieu. We ended up thoroughly lost but finally spotted “the lake” from a higher street and walked back down.
Cafe in Cucuron

Cafe in Cucuron

Notre Dame de Beaulieu in Cucuron

Notre Dame de Beaulieu in Cucuron

Ironwork inside Notre Dame de Beaulieu in Cucuron

Ironwork inside Notre Dame de Beaulieu in Cucuron



View of the Château d'Ansouis from parking

View of the Château d'Ansouis from parking

We then searched out the road to Ansouis, one of the Plus Beaux Villages of France and again, drove right to free parking. We set off uphill . . . way up hill toward the Château and tried to visit the town but there didn’t appear to be much town. We stopped in one gallery with pretty awful art and a very cute cat. The houses were lovely but we didn’t see shops or anything to visit. Opposite the Château was an exhibit of local artists, some quite good that we did enjoy. We entered what looked like the Château but was Eglise St. Martin-d’Ansouis and small but very ornate. Views from the viewing table in front of the church/chateau are spectacular over the surrounding countryside.
Walk up to the Château d'Ansouis

Walk up to the Château d'Ansouis


Château d'Ansouis

Château d'Ansouis


Belfroi in Ansouis

Belfroi in Ansouis

View from Eglise St. Martin-d’Ansouis attached to the Château

View from Eglise St. Martin-d’Ansouis attached to the Château

Eglise St. Martin-d’Ansouis interior

Eglise St. Martin-d’Ansouis interior



Blue door in Ansouis

Blue door in Ansouis


Exited the church and started the long walk down to the car. We drove to the D973 and retraced our steps to Mallemort and home to discover our local boulanger closed. Drove to Gare Mollégès and that boulanger was also closed! We ate stale bread from last night for dinner. Is there a boulanger strike? Horrors . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 13:10 Archived in France Tagged plus_beaux_villages Comments (0)

Saint-Remy-de-Provence on Market Day

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


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By the parking lot in Glanum

By the parking lot in Glanum

Woke to an e-mail from Carol Lynn to meet them in St.-Remy-de-Provence at Le Bistro des Alpilles at 10:30. Great! We thought we allowed ourselves plenty of time but parking on market day was a challenge. Even the illegal spots were taken. We finally gave up and drove out to Glanum and parked there. This necessitated a rather long hike back into town so we were about ten minutes late. David was waiting for us and Carol Lynn was across the street at a stationers shopping. I like the way she thinks . . .

Street Market in Saint-Remy-de-Provence

Street Market in Saint-Remy-de-Provence

Market vendor in Saint-Remy-de-Provence

Market vendor in Saint-Remy-de-Provence


Carol Lynn wisely made luncheon reservations for us and we set off into the street market. What fun! They are set up all over the Old Town and seem to sell everything. We were offered tastes of all kinds of candy, cheese, sausage, tapenade . . . Carol Lynn found several scarves for their daughters and I found one for me, a very vibrant red and blue. Ed got two terrific cheeses and David and I took lots of photos.
Saint-Remy-de-Provence Market

Saint-Remy-de-Provence Market

Cheese display at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence Market

Cheese display at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence Market



Le Bistro des Alpilles in Saint-Remy-de-Provence

Le Bistro des Alpilles in Saint-Remy-de-Provence


We shopped our way through town and back to the very busy restaurant where our table was waiting. Hooray! Despite all the tasting, we were ready to eat. Ed got fish and chips but the rest of us got the “souris d’agneau” or ‘mouse’ of lamb. I had seen one come out and it looked like a miniature leg of lamb served with gnocchi in a savory mushroom sauce. There was no way to resist so I ordered it and then so did Carol Lynn and David. Carol Lynn and I got a dark chocolate mousse for dessert; Ed got ice cream and David got citron sorbet in limoncello. Fabulous. We enjoyed the food, the service and especially the company listening to tales of their trip thus far. [Le Bistrot des Alpilles, 15 blvd. Mirabeau, St. Remy-de-Provence; +33 (0)4 9092-0917; e-mail: lba1@wanadoo.fr; ; http://www.bistrotdesalpilles.fr/]

Vegetables at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence market

Vegetables at the Saint-Remy-de-Provence market


As we left the restaurant, it started to rain so David, who had a raincoat and umbrella, offered to get their car and drive us back to Glanum to get ours. We gratefully accepted. Ed kept watch for David while Carol Lynn and I checked out the papeterie across the street and I found painting supplies. David arrived and drove us to our car and of course the rain immediately stopped. We said goodbye and started home looking for an open boulangerie. No luck so we drove to the huge supermarket (Intermarché) at Cabannes and stocked up in case the promised “major” storm arrives tomorrow. Drove home and iced my ankle and relaxed for a very on-again off-again rainy windy evening.

Posted by Beausoleil 11:23 Archived in France Tagged markets saint-remy-de-provence Comments (0)

La Roque d’Antheron and searching for a windmill

Thursday, September 18, 2014


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The beautiful route D7N near Mallemort

The beautiful route D7N near Mallemort

Awoke to a flash of lightning followed by the requisite thunder. Morning storm after rain all night. We had a leisurely breakfast and checked e-mails trying to decide what to do. It seemed to be clearing so we decided to go to the Artichouette in La Roque d’Antheron for lunch and if the weather held, to continue to Eyguières later. We took the D7n (the old N7) through Pont Royal and then the D561 on to La Roque where we ran into their market where we usually park. We found parking down past the château and hiked up to the market where they were putting things away and closing shop. I got a few photos but we couldn’t find L’Artichouette so I finally went into a pharmacy to ask directions. They looked a little puzzled and then smiled and said, “go to the church and turn left.” As it turned out, we went to the church and there was no left so we turned right. There were several restaurants but no L’Artichouette. Then Ed spotted the familiar curved window . . . it is now L’Auberge du Castellas and much improved in food and ambience. They still have the metal owl sign for L’Artichouette.
Market in La Roque d’Antheron

Market in La Roque d’Antheron


Église Notre Dame de l'Annonciation

Église Notre Dame de l'Annonciation


Château in La Roque d’Antheron

Château in La Roque d’Antheron



L’Auberge du Castellas, no longer L’Artichouette but the owl remains

L’Auberge du Castellas, no longer L’Artichouette but the owl remains


We checked the menu and entered. A very voluble gentleman greeted us with a barrage of French. We must have looked stunned because he started over more slowly and we got a table for two inside and beside a very jovial French family. Neither the owner nor his wife spoke more than a few words of English, but they spoke their French clearly and we could understand them. We decided on the 25 euro menu although there were quite a few less expensive options including a ten euro plat du jour. Ed got magret de canard and I got the Chrislaine agneau and both came with a roasted half potato and a variety of other roasted vegetables. When the food arrived, I wasn’t too happy to see agneau Chrislaine was two lamb cutlets. I love lamb but cutlets don’t have much meat on them and mine was quite fatty. I will admit the flavor was outstanding. They were deliciously seasoned . . . just not much meat. Ed’s duck, on the other hand, was a generous portion and equally tasty so he graciously gave me a slice. The bread was excellent. Ed got a praline cake with caramel sauce for dessert and I got a crumble of some sort that was a rich butter cooky crust filled with thick crème fraiche and a pear crumble accompanied by whipped cream and a shot of tasty and potent pear liqueur. Fabulous! [L’Auberge du Castellas, 10 bis rue de l’Eglise, 13640 La Roque d’Antheron; +33 (0)4 4250-5058; http://www.auberge-du-castellas.fr/; auberge-du-castellas@sfr.fr, open Weds. noon to Sunday evening] They also offer vegetarian and gluten-free menu choices.
L’Auberge du Castellas

L’Auberge du Castellas


L’Auberge du Castellas old sign with the owl

L’Auberge du Castellas old sign with the owl



Driving into Eyguières from Lamanon

Driving into Eyguières from Lamanon

We decided the new ownership was an improvement and next time I’ll get the duck. I took some pictures and we set off for Eyguières following signs through the beautiful Luberon countryside. We rediscovered Lamanon and what we saw was lovely. Also discovered they have a train station connected directly to Marseille. Arrived in Eyguières and did a once-through of the town. We returned and parked but couldn’t figure out the parking machine. No rates and no place for money. There was a slot for something but no identification so we weren’t sure what it was for or even if we needed to pay. You were supposed to put in your license number but none of the buttons worked. Weird! We gave up and tried another lot closer in to Old Town and there were no parking spots. We left Eyguières.
Eyguières

Eyguières

Very large pencils

Very large pencils

Took back roads home and it was gorgeous. When we got to Mollégès, Ed spotted a windmill sign so we followed it out into the country to no avail. The road ran out before we found a windmill but we did find some huge upright pencils in bright colors. We gave up on the windmill, drove home and Ed hung the remainder of the laundry out until the rain starts again.
The road to our gite (holiday cottage)

The road to our gite (holiday cottage)

Posted by Beausoleil 12:34 Archived in France Tagged restaurants Comments (3)

Bonnieux and the unsung Mallemort

Friday, September 19, 2014


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View from Parking in Bonnieux

View from Parking in Bonnieux

Slept ‘til 7:30 and it’s hard to tell what the weather will be today. Early rain but it’s predicted off and on. They’ve had terrible flooding in the Aveyron but we’ve escaped with scattered storms. We decided to pack umbrellas and drive to Bonnieux and trust luck.

Rue des Pénitents Blancs

Rue des Pénitents Blancs

It was a wet but pretty drive. The D7n is rather industrial but still tree-lined with mountains and orchards between towns. Once you cross the Durance and get on the D973, it is lovely and when you turn north, the scenery becomes spectacular . . . and the road becomes narrower!

View from Eglise Haute or the High church

View from Eglise Haute or the High church

We arrived in Bonnieux and quickly found parking. On foot we started the long uphill climb to the old church. The church wasn’t open but the views were worth the climb. You can see forever from the top. Then we had the, for me, more difficult task of walking back down the many steps, cobblestones and rocky paths . . . a mine field with a sprained ankle, but we did it.
The Old or High Church (Eglise Haute) in Bonnieux

The Old or High Church (Eglise Haute) in Bonnieux


Cross in the grounds of the Old Church (Eglise Haute) in Bonnieux

Cross in the grounds of the Old Church (Eglise Haute) in Bonnieux



Restaurant Le St. Andre in Bonnieux

Restaurant Le St. Andre in Bonnieux

We continued into town looking for lunch and found Le St.-André on the Place de la Liberté so we settled in for our meal. They had a very nice 25 euro menu and Ed got gazpacho and I got a very fun crudité plate. For a main we both opted for the tagliatelle in a light salmon sauce with shaved Parmesan and we both got a very dark rich chocolate mousse for dessert. Our waitress didn’t seem to speak much English but when four Americans walked in, she managed to help them cheerfully. One of them spoke a little French and that helped a lot. It was a fun lunch. [Le St.-André, 1 Place de la Liberté, 84480 Bonnieux; +33 (0)4 9075-1172; e-mail: contact@saintandré-bonnieux.com]

The Dolphin Fountain Bonnieux

The Dolphin Fountain Bonnieux

After lunch we set off following signs to the bread museum but ran out of town before we found it. Back down the hill to find the new church and we had better luck here. It’s hard to hide a church steeple . . . We left the church and walked back up to the car where we followed signs to Lourmarin. As we left, the route took us back through Bonnieux so we hoped we wouldn’t meet a tour bus on the narrow streets. We didn’t, but in the morning had watched a face-off between a tour bus and a large delivery truck. The bus won and the truck driver backed down the mountain, probably none to happily.

Mallemort, France

Mallemort, France

We drove through Lourmarin and on to Mallemort where we parked and walked to the tourist office for a map. The young lady gave us a walking map and lots of information so we set off for Old Town Mallemort. It’s larger and prettier than we expected. We’ve stayed near here several times and only visited the supermarket before so this was not only fun, it was a revelation. We stopped in the church and walked out to the viewing platform at the château. Great view of the Durance River winding through the valley.

Auberge du Vieux Village in Mallemort

Auberge du Vieux Village in Mallemort


Saint Michel in Mallemort

Saint Michel in Mallemort


View of the Durance River Valley from the chateau in Mallemort

View of the Durance River Valley from the chateau in Mallemort

Hiked back down to the car, stopped at the boulangerie and drove home where it looks like we may get more rain.

Posted by Beausoleil 17:19 Archived in France Tagged plus_beaux_villages Comments (0)

Tarascon and the Legend of the Tarasque

Saturday, September 20, 2014


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Château de Tarascon and parking

Château de Tarascon and parking

Up bright and early for European Patrimony Days when nearly all tourist sites are free. We wanted to find parking in Tarascon so left early. We zipped over in about a half hour . . . faster than we expected. Drove right to the castle and easily parked right beside it. Only problem . . . it wasn’t open yet. Too early.

The Tarasque outside the Château de Tarascon

The Tarasque outside the Château de Tarascon

We noticed a grotesque statue on the edge of the castle grounds so walked over to discover the “Tarasque, a mythological beast that had once terrorized these lands. It figures in many local legends. According to the local tourist office, [The king of Nerluc had attacked the Tarasque with knights and catapults to no avail. But Saint Martha found the beast and charmed it with hymns and prayers, and led back the tamed Tarasque to the city. The people, terrified by the monster, attacked it when it drew nigh. The monster offered no resistance and died there. Martha then preached to the people and converted many of them to Christianity. Sorry for what they had done to the tamed monster, the newly-Christianized townspeople changed the town's name to Tarascon.]

Collégiale Royale Sainte Marthe

Collégiale Royale Sainte Marthe


Collégiale Royale Sainte Marthe

Collégiale Royale Sainte Marthe

We walked over to the very impressive Collegial Royale Ste. Marthe across the street and started to explore. It is set up with motion sensors so when you enter an area, the lights come on. Effective. All the chapels are closed off with very attractive iron work. It's beautiful but makes it difficult to photograph things behind it. We did go down in the crypt to see Ste. Marthe very thankful for the automatic lights.

Garden inside Château de Tarascon

Garden inside Château de Tarascon


Château de Tarascon

Château de Tarascon

By the time we finished, the château was open so we walked in and got our free passes (Patrimony Day). Whee! The first rooms were servants quarters and in the largest they have set up wonderful interactive stations to make the history more meaningful. They had puzzles for kids and touchable sculptures for everyone. It was fun. Then we walked through the tiny but lovely garden.

Château de Beaucaire across the river from Château de Tarascon

Château de Beaucaire across the river from Château de Tarascon


Next we approached the Royal Château with at least a million steps, most spiral. You explore the courtyard and chapel and start up the spiral stairs that fortunately were even and had railings. At each level you stop and explore the rooms. At the top, you are on the top of the Keep and can see for miles. Great Views. On one side you can look across the Rhone River and see the town of Beaucaire and its Château so you are looking from Château to Château. Fun!

Medieval costume exhibit at Château de Tarascon

Medieval costume exhibit at Château de Tarascon

Then you start down another set of spiral staircases, again stopping at each level to visit rooms. On the descent you go through several rooms of a costume museum of knights and their ladies. It was well done and interesting. Naturally you exit through their gift store.

Des Halles in Tarascon

Des Halles in Tarascon


Statue De Tartarin de Tarascon, hunter of caps

Statue De Tartarin de Tarascon, hunter of caps

This brought us to lunch time. Ed wasn’t excited about the restaurant across the street so we set off into Old Town. We passed the church and went down rue de College and rue Clerc de Molliéres to discover a covered walkway at rue des Halles that we followed to the Hotel de Ville finding most stores and the few restaurants closed. At Place du Marché there were a couple places open but not very attractive. We continued and ended up on the main road walking around town . . . everything closed. Finally we came to a port to a tree-lined street, entered and asked where the center or the tourist office was and got a vague “la bas.” Ed stopped in the next tabac and the kind man gave him directions and a map. Moving on we found a few open bars and finally ended up on Cours Aristide Briande where some cafés were open. None of them would take MasterCard so we trudged on. Finally at Place Colonel Berrurier, the third place we asked took MasterCard. Hooray . . . lunch. We had worked up an appetite.

Le Terminus Restaurant in Tarascon

Le Terminus Restaurant in Tarascon

The restaurant was Le Terminus and it was wonderful. They had a 13.50 menu that looked good but the 19.90 menu had confit de canard so we chose that. Ed got a charcuterie plate to start and I ordered bruschetta. Either plate could have been a meal. My bruschetta, a huge slice of country loaf, was covered in ham and shaved Parmesan with a green salad on the side! The confit de canard was tender and delicious accompanied by mixed vegetables, bread and a bowl of frites that we couldn’t begin to eat. Ed passed on the cheese course but I ate part of one cheese. There were three on the plate. Ed got citron and cassis sorbet for dessert and I got profiterolles. It was wonderful but we were stuffed. I must add the bathroom was large, spotless and handicapped equipped. Very unusual in France. [Le Terminus Restaurant, 6 place du Colonel Berrurier 13150 Tarascon; tel: +33 (0)4 9096-5301; open noon to 2 PM and 7:30 to 9:30 PM]

Collegial Royale Ste. Marthe from the back

Collegial Royale Ste. Marthe from the back


We walked back to our car to find two people parked illegally blocking an easy exit. A car came in behind us so I motioned him into our spot which created another road block. The two illegals moved, positioning themselves to pull into our spot but Ed somehow managed to back out blocking them and let the fellow we’d invited into our spot. We didn’t stay to see what happened!

Drove home and iced my ankle before church and then drove to Eygalières to church where there was a sign saying Mass would be tomorrow at St. Andiol instead. An Englishman asked us about it. He didn’t understand the sign and didn’t know where St. Andiol was. As Ed explained it all, a voice said, “Those Americans. You can’t believe a word they say.” We turned around and there stood Carol Lynn and David. What a surprise! We all chatted for a while and the Englishman left on his bicycle. We told Carol Lynn and David about the Chapel of St. Sixte down the road and they set off to find it while we drove home to change plans for tomorrow.

Posted by Beausoleil 15:37 Archived in France Tagged castles castle chateau tarascon tarasque Comments (2)

A Folk Mass and Glanum all in one day . . .

Sunday, September 21, 2014


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Messe de rentrèe de L’Unitè Pastorale in St. Andiol

Messe de rentrèe de L’Unitè Pastorale in St. Andiol

A relaxed start to the day since we had been forced to the eleven o’clock Mass. Fortunately we left very early for parking because when we got to the church in Mollégès, we had the same sign we’d seen last night at Eygalières, that Mass would be in St. Andiol at 10:30. We ran for the car and drove madly up to St. Andiol where we blessedly found a parking place. We walked toward the church and started to hear singing so followed our ears. We were met by a very confused and somewhat irate elderly French lady who had been to the church and it was empty. I remembered something about the château and it was right beside the church so we invited her along. Sure enough, the Mass had started and was set up in the château courtyard. The irate lady looked at it, stood there a while and then left. There were seven priests, a band, a donkey and bowls of fruits and vegetables. There were also no seats left so we stood in back. This may have been what discouraged the grumpy lady.

Getting ready for the Harvest Procession, presenting the gifts

Getting ready for the Harvest Procession, presenting the gifts

As it turned out, this was their “Messe de rentrèe de L’Unitè Pastorale,” possibly part of Patrimony Days and certainly part harvest festival. One of the priests left the altar and brought me a chair and my sprained ankle and I were most grateful. Ed thought the priest might have remembered me from last Sunday in Mollégès when my ankle had just been sprained. We never did discover why the donkey was there but he was cute and well-behaved. For bringing up of gifts, the children of various villages carried up the harvest and one tiny fellow carefully shepherded a candle in the breeze. It was a thoroughly charming experience, one of those things that you simply can’t plan; they just happen.
Annex to the Château in St. Andiol

Annex to the Château in St. Andiol



Villa Glanum Hotel-Restaurant

Villa Glanum Hotel-Restaurant


Villa Glanum Hotel-Restaurant

Villa Glanum Hotel-Restaurant

Afterward we drove south through St. Remy to Villa Glanum where we parked and went in for lunch. It was shaded and lovely and they had several menu choices but we decided to order from the carte and only have two courses. Ed got a Provençal cod with ratatouille and I got a marvelous magret de canard, tender and cooked to perfection. For dessert Ed got a vanilla custard with caramel sauce and I got the moelleaux au chocolat in a burnt sugar sauce. Fabulous! The restaurant cat was also very cute although she did cadge food, a big no-no at home. [Villa Glanum, 46 ave. Van Gogh 13210 St. Remy-de-Provence; tel: +33 (0)4 9092-0359; fax: +33 (0)4 9092-0008; e-mail: contact@villaglanum.com; http://www.villaglanum.com/index-anglais.htm]

Les Antiques beside the parking lot for Glanum

Les Antiques beside the parking lot for Glanum

After lunch we moved the car next door to the Glanum Archeological Site and walked across the road to Glanum. Both parking and the visit were free today. (Patrimony Days) Since our last visit, they’ve added a welcome center and gift shop and made the site much more easily accessible. We walked through all of it and stopped at the small café for drinks before driving home. From a foggy morning to a gorgeous day . . . http://www.site-glanum.fr/en/
Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

Glanum Archeological Site

From the bistro at Glanum Archeological Site

From the bistro at Glanum Archeological Site

Mausoleum of the Julii at Les Antiques

Mausoleum of the Julii at Les Antiques

Mausoleum of the Julii at Glanum

Mausoleum of the Julii at Glanum

The Triumphal Arch at Les Antiques

The Triumphal Arch at Les Antiques


Claude stopped by with clean bed linen and that is lovely. Next week is our last week . . . so sad.

Posted by Beausoleil 11:47 Archived in France Tagged glanum folk_mass Comments (1)

Lagnes with some amazing tiny bories and Lacoste


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Bridge over the Sorgue River near Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

Bridge over the Sorgue River near Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

I’m behind in my Journal . . . busy days. On Monday we decided to visit the small villages of Lagnes where Carol Lynn and David had stayed and then Lacoste of Marquis de Sade fame. We got a fairly early start because we had to go through Cavaillon . . . always a challenge. We took the easy (long) way around and up to the D900 and it went well. We even found a magnificent bridge on the way and stopped for photos.

Lagnes

Lagnes


Fountain in Lagnes

Fountain in Lagnes

We arrived in Lagnes and started the parking search. We ended up driving clear through the tiny town so turned around and went back to a small parking lot and got the last place. Hooray! We set off uphill to explore and it was early enough that even the church wasn’t open. We saw a tiny street going uphill so followed it to discover a huge stone wall surrounding the château. We followed around the wall until I noticed several small stone bories decorating a doorway. We stopped to look and discovered a courtyard full of little bories of all descriptions. Then we saw them placed carefully along the château wall. Evidently a retired gentleman makes them as a hobby and they appear all around the château. Great fun! We later read an article about the gentleman in a local news magazine.
Little model bories made by a retired gentleman in Lagnes

Little model bories made by a retired gentleman in Lagnes


Arriving in Lacoste

Arriving in Lacoste

Street in Lacoste

Street in Lacoste


We walked to the top of the hill and back down snapping pictures, then retrieved the car and drove to Lacoste. Parking was well marked at the entrance to town as was the road to the village or ancient part of Lacoste. We hiked up and met two artists working outside their gallery and then visited the church. We started looking for lunch and had only one choice, Café de France. Every other restaurant was closed on Monday. A happy accident as it turned out.

Café de France

Café de France

We found a pleasant vine-shaded table overlooking the valley with Bonnieux on the opposite hill. With a gentle breeze and an excellent menu, we had a great lunch. We both got the menu du jour and chose brochettes of beef which were excellent. There was a separate bowl of frites that was way too much food but they were tasty. It was a delightful place for a meal and the only down side was that they don’t take credit cards. We used real money from our dwindling supply of cash. Later discovered David and Carol Lynn had stopped here for lunch when they visited Lacoste. Funny coincidence . . . [Café de France, L’Auberge du Village 84480 Lacoste; +33 (0)4 9075-8225; apparently no web site]

Lacoste walk to the château

Lacoste walk to the château


Lacoste walk to the château

Lacoste walk to the château

After lunch we started the long climb to the top on very slippery cobblestones. Thankfully, they had hand railings part of the way. They must have known I was coming. It is beautiful and worth the climb. At the ruined château it gets very steep and rocky but at the top it’s a huge flat space with a full view of the castle and several sculptures related to the Marquis de Sade who once lived here. For those who can't deal with slippery cobblestones even with handrailings, there is a road and parking at the château. There are some very interesting sculptures and wonderful views from the château.
Château de Lacoste

Château de Lacoste


Arbre de la Vie, sculpture by Ettore Greco at  Château de Lacoste

Arbre de la Vie, sculpture by Ettore Greco at Château de Lacoste


Mt. Ventoux from the  Château de Lacoste

Mt. Ventoux from the Château de Lacoste



Mt. Ventoux on the walk back down into Lacoste

Mt. Ventoux on the walk back down into Lacoste

Another shot of Mt. Ventoux walking down from the Château

Another shot of Mt. Ventoux walking down from the Château

The trip down was equally slippery with the added distraction of a magnificent view of Mt. Ventoux appearing around every corner. It was just stunning.

Got the car and drove toward Apt to catch the road to the bridge at Mallemort . . . so much easier than Cavaillon! We stopped in a Simply Supermarché in Sénas for evening picnic supplies. Love French cheese . . . Love relaxing on our shaded patio.

Posted by Beausoleil 07:53 Archived in France Tagged mountains scenery lacoste lagnes bories Comments (0)

Arles on My Birthday - a Van Gogh Walk with Friends

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


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First stop on the Van Gogh Walk at the Roman Arena

First stop on the Van Gogh Walk at the Roman Arena

Up early and checked e-mail to discover Carol Lynn and David could meet us at a café in Arles so we ate a quick breakfast, opened my presents from Ed, Jean & Peg and left for Arles. Easy trip, easy parking and we arrived in time for a hot chocolate by the magnificent Roman Arena before Carol Lynn and David got there. Since the first easel on the Van Gogh Walk is at the base of the Arena, we were in a good place to start our search.

Garden behind the Roman Theater in Arles

Garden behind the Roman Theater in Arles


Van Gogh Easel in the Jardin d'Ete

Van Gogh Easel in the Jardin d'Ete


The four of us checked all our resources. We had a book with photos of the Van Gogh paintings and a skimpy map; David had a great map marked for him by the Tourist Office and Carol Lynn had a Rick Steve’s book with descriptions and directions so, putting it all together, we set off to find the Van Gogh painting sites. We hadn’t gone 20 feet when we met a youngish couple from Connecticut doing the same thing so we showed them our book and they bought one too. We ran into them off and on all morning and we helped each other find the Van Gogh easels. It was a fun challenge. One was inside a former hospital and David knew about it and gave the other couple directions as we passed them at lunch.

Street sign in Old Town Arles

Street sign in Old Town Arles

Van Gogh Easel on the Place du Forum, Arles

Van Gogh Easel on the Place du Forum, Arles

Carol Lynn had heard of Cuisine de Comptoir and it sounded like a good place for a reasonably quick lunch. It is France so lunch can't be too fast. We soon found it on a side street, entered, were seated, checked the menu and all of us got tartines. For a starter, David, Carol Lynn and I got lentil soup and Ed a gazpacho. For a main, David and I got tartines of magret de canard and cantal cheese; Carol Lynn got fois gras and Ed got chicken. They were all excellent. An American couple sat next to us and the service must have seemed slow or unfair to them because they noisily got up and walked out. I think they may have been justified but also know the wait staff were all leery of them because they didn’t speak a word of French. That’s scary to waiters who have limited English. Too bad for everyone. Carol Lynn talked to them later and they had a pleasant lunch elsewhere so I guess it worked out all right for them. [Cuisine de Comptoir, 10 rue de la Liberté 13200 Arles; +33 (0)4 9096-8628; http://www.cuisinedecomptoir.com/; e-mail: contact@cuisinedecokmptoir.com]

Van Gogh Easel inside the Hotel Dieu, Arles

Van Gogh Easel inside the Hotel Dieu, Arles

View from the roof of the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh

View from the roof of the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh

After lunch we continued our pursuit of Van Gogh sites until we arrived at the the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles [33 rue Docteur Fanton 13200 Arles; http://fondation-vincentvangogh-arles.org/] where we got a senior rate, and entered to explore. It was interesting but they have only one Van Gogh on loan for 50 years. In summer they get more paintings on temporary exhibit so we need to return in season some time. We explored the current exhibit and got great photos from the rooftop and returned to our search through the streets. As we searched out the final Van Gogh easel near the Rhone, we did a little shopping and I got a Provençal tablecloth to match the napkins we bought earlier. At the final easel, we walked to Monoprix and left Carol Lynn and David there so she could do some necessary shopping while Ed & I recovered our car and started the drive home.

Restaurant Cador - Picturesque

Restaurant Cador - Picturesque


The Yellow House Easel; the house is gone.

The Yellow House Easel; the house is gone.

Chez Ju for my birthday dinner

Chez Ju for my birthday dinner

We got home in a half hour . . . no traffic going our way! We stopped at Mas du Capoun to make a dinner reservation for my birthday dinner and discovered they are closed Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday. Oops! Drove home and iced my ankle while Ed brought in the laundry. At 7:00 we drove in to Chez Ju, our alternative choice for dinner and discovered they were fully booked. Ouch; we weren't expecting that. They had outdoor seating and it was chilly but we really had no choice. Fortunately I had a jacket and Ed said he was fine. We chose a seat along the wall beside a lot of candles on a window sill hoping they would keep us warm. It worked quite well. Our waiter was very young and trying to be the perfect Paris waiter. He was quite successful, most dignified, very correct and excellent service. We loved him. We had a kir to celebrate my aging. For dinner I got the filet mignon of porc and Ed got dorade, and both were absolutely perfect with vegetables and roasted potatoes. We each got dessert. I had a Café Liegeois with chocolate sauce and Ed got a Dame Blanche. When I ordered a coffee, our perfect Paris waiter brought out my coffee with another ice cream and a candle lit for my birthday. I managed to eat it with a little help from Ed.

It was a truly fun day and I suspect we had more fun and just as good a dinner at Chez Ju for half the price of the closed-on-Tuesday Mas du Capoun. Great birthday . . . good friends; good scenery; good times; good food.

Posted by Beausoleil 13:15 Archived in France Tagged art restaurants arles van_gogh_walk Comments (3)

Musée des Arômes du Parfum and Saint-Remy-de-Provence

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


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Musée des Arômes du Parfum

Musée des Arômes du Parfum


Gift shop in the Musée des Arômes du Parfum

Gift shop in the Musée des Arômes du Parfum

Woke to dreary skies that soon turned to rain so we had a very leisurely breakfast and finally decided it was a museum day. There was a mysterious "Musée" marked in the middle of nowhere on our Michelin map so we decided to find it and see what it was. We drove around Saint-Remy-de-Provence on the 99 and turned north on the D570n looking for D80. As it turned out, it was D80a, a very small road, so we missed it the first time but finally saw a sign to a perfume museum. Mystery solved. We drove down a very narrow, wet, country road to the Musée des Arômes du Parfum, parked, paid and entered. Fortunately the aroma was not overwhelming. They had an amazing collection of old stills and a short movie explaining the distillation process. There were perfume bottles, dried flowers, a smelling station and a cute cat. Fun, but didn’t take too long. There is a small but nice boutique at the entrance. [Musée des Arômes du Parfum, Ancien chemin d’Arles 13690 Graveson-en-Provence; +33 (0)4 9095-8172; fax: +33 (0)4 9095-8520; http://museedesaromes.com/; e-mail: info@museedesaromes.com; perfume-making and other visits: http://museedesaromes.com/tarifs-nos-visites-bioaromatic/]

Some of the historic perfume displays

Some of the historic perfume displays


Entrance and movie at Musée des Arômes du Parfum

Entrance and movie at Musée des Arômes du Parfum


A still and lavender at the Musée des Arômes du Parfum

A still and lavender at the Musée des Arômes du Parfum

Driving to Saint-Remy-de-Provence in the rain

Driving to Saint-Remy-de-Provence in the rain

Saint-Remy market on a rainy day

Saint-Remy market on a rainy day

Back in the car, we decided to try for parking in St. Remy even if it was market day because we knew the market would be ending and the weather was bad which might discourage other market goers. Luck was with us and we found a parking place at the tourist office, whipped out our trusty umbrellas and walked to Le Bistrot des Alpilles (see Sept. 17) where we had enjoyed a lunch with Carol Lynn and David a week ago.

*** * ***

The restaurants were all packed so we weren’t sure we’d get in, but we did and got a table by the window. It was pouring rain and I got a tiny bit of spatter from a leak in the awning, but the window seat was so much fun that I didn’t ask to be reseated. Everyone outside was trying to escape the rain in various ways and it was most amusing to watch.

I got the souris d’agneau again and Ed got a dorade that came with an odd little platter containing green beans, cauliflower, half a potato and two huge snails. I cheerfully ate the snails and cauliflower and he enjoyed the rest of it. My lamb was fork tender and served with gnocchi. We ended with a dark chocolate mousse. Super lunch. We really like this place.

Le Bistrot des Alpilles in the rain

Le Bistrot des Alpilles in the rain

Sculpture of Van Gogh by Zadkine in the Musée des Alpilles

Sculpture of Van Gogh by Zadkine in the Musée des Alpilles

Musée des Alpilles

Musée des Alpilles

Document in the Musée des Alpilles

Document in the Musée des Alpilles

Tile making display in the Musée des Alpilles

Tile making display in the Musée des Alpilles

Next we set off to find two local museums and found the Musée des Alpilles first. Edie told us about it and it’s a local ethnic museum full of photos, paintings, costumes and farm implements in a lovely historic building. It was perfect for a rainy day and we thoroughly enjoyed it. [Musée des Alpilles, 7 Rue Carnot (at Place Favier), 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence; tel: +33 (0)4 9092-6824; e-mail: museedesalpilles@mairie-saintremydeprovence.fr; web site: http://www.saint-remy-de-provence.com/le-musee-des-alpilles/]

Musée Estrine entrance

Musée Estrine entrance

The next museum was Musée Estrine and we found it quickly. It's located on a beautiful square. We'd seen it on earlier trips filled with people sitting at the outdoor cafes. Today, it was very quiet in the rain. The museum has a small permanent collection, a strange visiting exhibit and a Center of Interpretation of Van Gogh with two interesting films and a time line, all in a well-renovated historic building. Definitely worth a visit if you’ve visited St. Remy’s other sites. The ticket lady is a veritable art encyclopedia so feel free to ask questions if she’s not busy. [8 rue Lucien Estrine, 13210 St. Remy-de-Provence; tel: +33 (0)4 9092-3472; http://www.musee-estrine.fr]

Sculpture Garden on the second floor of the Musée Estrine

Sculpture Garden on the second floor of the Musée Estrine

Fountain outside the entrance to the Musée Estrine

Fountain outside the entrance to the Musée Estrine

Shop display with my umbrella lower center . . .

Shop display with my umbrella lower center . . .


Walked back to the car in the rain, stopping for bread at a small market. Fog is setting in for the night. A perfect night to curl up with a good book . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 11:46 Archived in France Tagged museums perfume saint-remy-de-provence Comments (1)

Boulbon and Barbentane and a very nice restaurant

Thursday, September 25, 2014


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Château at Boulbon from downtown

Château at Boulbon from downtown

Woke to sunshine but very windy and cool enough for jackets . . . a pleasant change. I phoned Renault to make an appointment to return our car Saturday. We ate and started for Boulbon. Had no trouble getting there except for the D35 out of Tarascon being closed. We took the scenic route past Frigolet Abbey, a lovely drive. Arrived at the road into Boulbon and it was closed for construction . . . no signs, no detours, and folks along the road no help. We went further down the D35 and took another entrance into the very neat but not very welcoming town. We parked on the main square and tried to walk around dodging aggressive drivers on narrow streets. We did get in the church (Eglise St. Joseph) but signage in town was spare to nonexistent and we couldn’t find anything. We walked partway up a cobbled street and found the wall around the château but no entrance. We found a nice viewpoint and got some photos and started back down. We finally gave up the château search on foot and got the car in hopes road signs to either the château or the moulin we had spotted would appear. You could see the hilltop windmill from the highway but no signs or entrance. Later discovered the windmill is Moulin Bonnet and is the only working windmill in the Bouches-de-Rhone district. We found one sign to the château and it didn’t lead anywhere so we gave up and retreated to the D35 north to Barbentane that we hoped would be an improvement. It definitely was . . .
Eglise Saint Joseph in Boulbon

Eglise Saint Joseph in Boulbon

Eglise Saint Joseph in Boulbon

Eglise Saint Joseph in Boulbon

Eglise Saint Joseph in Boulbon

Eglise Saint Joseph in Boulbon

Moulin Bonnet near Boulbon

Moulin Bonnet near Boulbon

Château at Boulbon

Château at Boulbon


Restaurant Le Romarin in Barbentane

Restaurant Le Romarin in Barbentane

We found Barbentane with no problem and passed a nice restaurant on the way to parking. Got the last parking place but couldn’t figure out a very odd set of parking instructions. We walked to the restaurant and it was closed for the week! However, we spotted a sign down a side street to free parking so Ed went back and got the car and moved it. Safe! There was a caisse but a local lady assured us it was gratuit. At last, a friendly person! Boulbon had been a real surprise in a negative way and Barbentane was turning out to be a very positive surprise.

La Porte Calendrale

La Porte Calendrale

We walked to the tourist office and got a map and a restaurant recommendation from a very pleasant young woman. Then walked a block to Le Romarin, a quaint and friendly restaurant. The 13.50 euro menu looked a little overwhelming so we spent more to get less. Ed got Blanc de poulet en croûte de jambon cru, chicken wrapped in ham in a crust, and I got the souris d’agneau. We both opted for potatoes Dauphinoise instead of frites and were very glad because it was delicious. It also came with haricots verts. Both meals were wonderful and the restaurant quickly filled with townsfolk eating lunch. No one spoke English and there was no English menu but he did ask if we could read the French menu. We assured him we could, but I’m sure he would have found someone to help us if we couldn’t, possibly his daughter, the chef, as we later discovered. He had one daughter who was chef at the restaurant and the other daughter was a doctor in town. He said both daughters spoke English but he had never learned it. It was a delightful experience, good food, good service. [Le Romarin, 11 Avenue Bertherigues, 13570 Barbentane; +33 (0)4 9095-5843; http://romarins.e-monsite.com/#]

La Maison des Chevaliers

La Maison des Chevaliers

After lunch we set off on a town walk we’d gotten from the tourist office. That was great fun and we found almost all of the historic plaques throughout the old town. We started through the Porte Calendrale, up rue Grande to the Maison de Ville, Maison des Chevaliers, Notre Dame de Grace and on through the Old Town and various gates to the Tour Anglica and followed the path down through a tunnel that brought us out very near our restaurant. The château has recently been closed to visitors so we didn’t get to see that, just shot a photo through the gate as we left.
Eglise Notre Dame de Grace, the Lantern

Eglise Notre Dame de Grace, the Lantern

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-Grâce

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-Grâce


La Tour Anglica

La Tour Anglica



Path from Tour Anglica through a tunnel and down into the town

Path from Tour Anglica through a tunnel and down into the town

City Street Scene, Barbentane

City Street Scene, Barbentane


Back on the road we headed toward Châteaurenard where we planned to head toward Noves and home. Alas, our road was closed so we were detoured onto the D570n south and finally came to the 99 to St. Remy. Then in St. Remy, Ed mistakenly took the D30 north so we ended up on the D31 into our gite the back way. The nice part is we passed a field with at least a dozen grey herons posing for us. That was spectacular.

Posted by Beausoleil 15:07 Archived in France Tagged architecture barbentane boulbon Comments (2)

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